In the end, the Czech Republic abstained from voting, according to Kupka, even the last proposal was still “too ambitious” for us. One hundred percent of new city buses should then be completely emission-free by 2035.
“These changes are important for the Czech Republic. The softening of this regulation means the protection of the competitiveness of the European market and also the greater availability of public transport in individual locations,” said Minister Kupka. “We were worried that a tough requirement regarding 100 percent carbon-free buses from 2030 would mean higher expenses for many Czech cities and might even threaten the current quality of public transport, the frequency of connections, and could be counterproductive,” added Kupka.
As far as emission-free city buses are concerned, there are only a few of them in the Czech Republic. As stated by Minister Kupka, “lower tens of percent”. According to him, the city of Ostrava is the furthest away, but other cities are also gradually preparing to ensure a greater share of emission-free means of transport, not only buses, but also trolleybuses. “However, cities really need more time to prepare for this,” added the Minister of Transport.
The proposal, which the European Commission presented this February, is part of the so-called Green Deal for Europe. For the rules to come into effect, they must be approved by EU member states and the European Parliament.
The heavy vehicle sector is responsible for more than a quarter of road transport greenhouse gas emissions in the EU and more than 6 percent of total EU greenhouse gas emissions. Brussels therefore wants, as part of its green strategy, in addition to personal ones aut ecologically cleaner operation also for heavier vehicles. The standard under discussion today applies to trucks (over five tons), city buses (over 7.5 tons) and trailers (over eight tons).
Transport Minister Martin Kupka represented the Czech Republic at the negotiations today together with Environment Minister Petr Hladík. Another topic on which the Union ministers agreed in Luxembourg was the revision of the directive on the treatment of municipal waste water. “I have to say that the Czech Republic is doing very well with urban waste water treatment, if I look at the entire European Union. We are the ones who do it well and do it long-term,” said Minister Hladík after the meeting. However, as he added, wastewater needs to be cleaned more. “We need to remove not only nitrogen and phosphorus, but also other substances, microplastics and various medicinal products that get into city waters,” he added, adding that this approach will of course mean additional necessary investments, but the result will be cleaner and better quality water.
Environment ministers also agreed today on the EU’s negotiating position at the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28), which will take place from 30 November to 12 December 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The position of the now twenty-seven-year-old was the subject of much negotiation and had to be approved unanimously.